Reporting Child Abuse

NATIONAL CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). Crisis Counselors are available 24/7.

What to report

Explain, as well as you can, what happened or is happening to the child.  Describe the nature of the abuse or neglect.  Be as specific as possible.

It is helpful to have as much of the following information as you can when you call:

  • Name of birth parents or guardian
  • Date of birth for parents and children
  • Address of parents and children
  • School in which the children attend
  • Articulate the safety issue (What is the parent or guardian doing or not doing that is causing the child harm?)
  • When the safety issued occurred and how often
  • Name, date of birth, and location if possible, of the person who causing the hurt or harm.

Even if you do not know all of this information, report what you do know. Tell all you know about the situation.

What will happen?

A social worker from the county department of social/human services, an agency under contract with the county department or the Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services will work with the parents and assess the situation to determine if any support or assistance is needed to protect the child and help the family.

Services available to help the family and the child include counseling, in-home services, mental health and alcohol or drug abuse services, assistance or training in home and financial management, parent education and self-help groups.  In severe situations, it may be necessary to temporarily place a child in out-of-home care.

A person who is mandated to report suspected child abuse or neglect will be informed by the county what action, if any, was taken to protect the health, safety and welfare of the child who is the subject of the report. For a more detailed overview of the CPS process in Wisconsin, visit

Reporting is not “Meddling”

Deciding to get involved in a situation of suspected abuse or neglect can be difficult.  It is, however, a decision that may be crucial to a child not only today, but also in the future.  Parents who have abused or neglected their children may need services and support to provide safe care for their children.


  • When reporting a safety incident or concern to the police you should contact the police in the county in which the incident occurred. When contacting Child Protective Services about a safety incident or concern you should contact the county in which the parents reside.
  • It is helpful to document for yourself who you spoke to when you called and the time and date.

To Report Child Abuse – Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services: 414-220-SAFE (7233). If you are not in Milwaukee County click here to find the phone number for your county.

Getting help

Children who have been abused need caring adults to help them recognize that they are not responsible for the violence in their homes and to help them find ways to grow past their present trauma into healthy adults. Caring adults must help abused children avoid a cycle of learned abusive patterns by teaching and modeling nonviolent methods of conflict resolution and helping them express their feelings in healthy ways.

Your community has victim assistance programs and counselors who are trained to work with child abuse victims. These advocates can provide information and a full range of victim support services. The services are available to all child victims even if no one is charged with a crime. 

This material may be freely reproduced and distributed. However, when doing so, please credit Kids Matter Inc.